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Food acquisition and processing

Research Achievements

Food acquisition and processing

Current and former IGERT students (Chalk, Constantino), working together with IGERT faculty (Richmond, Lucas, Wood), have made several important findings as a result of interdisciplinary research on food acquisition and processing (one of our main research themes). One study used engineering approaches (fracture mechanics and finite element analyses) to investigate the feeding biomechanics of extinct human relatives. The results showed that the skull of species Australopithecus africanus contained anatomical features (e.g., pillars of bone in the face) that are mechanically suited to resisting stresses from biting with the premolar teeth, most likely from biting on large, hard objects. This study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 2009, Vol 106: 2124-2129).